Archive for April 2014

CJSR Playlist 6


Here’s my sixth playlist on CJSR, from Monday 28 April!

1. The Modern Lovers (Boston) – “Roadrunner”
2. The Frolics (Edmonton) – “Sippin’ Lemonade”
3. Hooded Fang (Toronto) – “Vacationation”
4. Reverend Horton Heat (Dallas) – “Let me Teach you how to Eat”
5. Choir and Marching Band (Edmonton) – “She Cut her Hair”
6. Aaron Vincent (Edmonton) – “Stay Bruised”
7. Wool on Wolves (Edmonton) – “Thick as Thieves”
8. Tyler Butler (Edmonton) – “Sparrow”
9. Ken Stead (Edmonton) – “Better Days”
10. David Shepherd (Edmonton) – “Downtown”
11. Bend Sinister (Kelowna) – “Thunder and Lightning”
12. We are Scientists (Berkeley) – “Dumb Luck”
13. Whitehorse (Hamilton) – “Je Suis Devenue Lionne”
14. Scenic Route to Alaska (Edmonton) – “All These Years”


Art Creates Community


Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones.

Two household names, right? But without two very important words, it’s likely not many people would know about either of them.

These words? Education and mentorship.

Both Hendrix and Jones grew up in the Central District of Seattle, before the Civil Rights Era. Racism might not have been as overt as it was in the South, but blacks could not work, going to school, or live outside the Central District. It was, then, a three mile square area where African-Americans lived their lives. Work was hard to find after the production boom of World War II ended, and many folks in the Central District did not just face racism, but poverty as well.

What did provide people with opportunity? Music. 

Jones and Charles
The Central District had a happenin’ music community. Youth like Quincy Jones were mentored by older musicians, such as a guy named Ray Charles, who moved to the Central District from Florida. Jones was also given the run of the music room at his school, Garfield High, by his band teacher.

Later on, Jimi Hendrix went to the same high school (remember the limits placed on African-Americans in Seattle?) and while he didn’t prosper there (not all teachers are created equal) he benefited from talented mentors just as Jones did.

These mentors, who had nothing to personally gain by teaching youth, exemplified the most positive part of community participation. The connections they made and the values they instilled had far-reaching effects – just ask anyone who saw Hendrix at Woodstock, or heck, has listened to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which Jones produced.

Jimi in Seattle

Hendrix in Seattle, circa 1958 (

Not everyone, obviously, can expect the same success as Hendrix and Jones, but that’s not the point. The real important part is people coming together and learning from each other, and building community.


Fast-forward to present-day Edmonton, and someone who understands this is a Chilean born musician and artist, Sebastian Barrera. An incredible performer in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, Barrera is also on the board for Edmonton’s Heart of the City Music Festival. He has also created a free school of arts, called Creart Edmonton, held at Parkdale -Cromdale Community League Hall every Saturday morning from 9AM-Noon.

The community league graciously donated the space for free, so each class can be held without a charge to the students. The music teachers involved donate their time as well.  Each class starts off with an hour of vocal lessons. Then an hour in the classroom, sectioned off so beginners can learn a few chords, and more advanced students the nuances of music theory.


Following the theory classes, everyone comes back together for an hour of jamming. Participants can join the circle and play guitar, piano, or the drums (and likely the triangle would be ok too). Not surprisingly for Barrera, art and music go hand in hand with community development. As he asserts:

Years ago being an artist was not about fame  but was about community. I come from a country (Chile) where we have important examples of musicians who dedicated their lives to change society and that type of commitment inspires me to work hard to make a difference. In my opinion artists have a big responsibility as communicators and they should work hard to be the voice of those who don’t have the ability to express themselves, and they should be activists working toward strong social changes.

As such, Barrera’s goal is to have as many Edmontonians have this opportunity as possible. His vision is for this to  inspire more free schools of arts all over the city. “Current students will start doing classes in other communities and in that way we can spread cells around.”


The positive impact of this vision is clear, as jam participant (and CJSR volunteer) Benjamin Arkless highlights, relating that “it’s an incredible opportunity for community development and it’s truly bringing a source of happiness to my life, knowing there’s a place every week where you are welcome – at any skill level to play with other people in the community – all walks of life and ages welcome.”

Arkless goes on to say that, “Parkdale-Cromdale is a true community league that isn’t simply renting the hall out to private things but a place open freely and voluntarily run. It is active and alive. So I like that, it makes Edmonton a good place to be.”

If folks want to know how they can help, Barrera encourages them to send students (of all-ages) to Creart on Saturday mornings. and, of course, to come out themselves. Everyone is welcome to share their skills, whatever they happen to be.   

People are also welcome to join the students on the last Friday of every month at Parkdale-Cromdale Hall, for the Family Friendly Music Night.  It’s a potluck AND concert! For details on the one happening Friday April 25th, check out the Facebook event here!

There’s also an important fundraising event called “Mano a Mano con Valparaiso” happening at, you guessed it, Parkdale-Cromdale Hall on Saturday, April 26th.  It’s to raise money for Valparaiso, Barrera’s home city that was devastated by a fire a few weeks ago. There will be food, drinks and music from 4PM to 1 AM. As Barrera says, “come and help us to help others.” Click here for the Facebook event!

As for how else people can help with Creart Edmonton, Barrera suggests this great advice: “Give us space for more classes, connect us with sponsors or resources. Come to our concerts. Enjoy our facebook.”


Music in the Heart of the City!


Heart of the CityThis weekend, the Heart of the City Music Festival is helping the inner-city community celebrate the end of winter!

Two concerts will be held showcasing the talents of musicians hoping to perform at the festival on June 7 and 8 in Giovanni Caboto Park. In previous years, concert auditions for the Heart of the City were held privately, but this time they’ll be held at Boyle Street Community Services and Bissell Centre!

The first show with be at Boyle Street Community Services (10116-105 Avenue NW) on Saturday April 26th, from 1-4PM. Just come through the front doors. On Sunday, April 27th, the second show will be at Bissell Centre (10527-96 Street) on the first floor of the west building.

Everyone is welcome to join the fun at both concerts!

If you have any questions, call Rylan at 780-860-6154. And check out the Heart of the City website,!


marching through the snow


Last Thursday, when winter was doing its best to hold off spring in Edmonton, Bohemia was holding a cozy local show. The Choir and Marching Band and 77 Superstars warmed things up for all the folks who braved the weather, and made it well worth the trudge through the snow.

The 77 Superstars started the show and immediately brought the audience back to the mid-70s in New York City. Fronted by Aaron Vincent, the sound, style, and attitude of the three piece harked back to the heyday of glam rock and early punk. Very importantly, the guitar solos were killer too.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, they even played the, uh, classic heroin addiction song first performed by the Heartbreakers, “Chinese Rocks.” I kept expecting Dee Dee Ramone to walk through the door. Or at least Richard Hell.

Another highlight of the show was when Vincent invited the audience to get closer to the stage, and even before he finished his request, Grant Stovel, the drummer for Choir and Marching Band, zoomed right up front.

Stovel was at the back of the stage once Choir and Marching Band were on it, helping launch into an ethereal set led by Trevor Rockwell.


The band’s newest release Superhot Body Only One Light Year Away debuted #2 on the CJSR charts a few weeks ago. Taking 5 years to make (which might have had something to do with Rockwell completing his PhD in Soviet History), it’s exciting his music has finally taken off like Sputnik.

Melodic and spacey, Rockwell weaved the audience through songs both new and old, and across genres. Funny enough, this distance was reflected in the movies screening on the Bohemia television during the gig- first it was Serenity, and then the Norwegian film Dead Snow. 

If you didn’t make it to the show last Thursday, Choir and Marching Band have a couple upcoming shows with great line-ups in May:

Saturday May 3rd – Filthy McNasty’s with Braden Gates.

Saturday May 10th – Starlite Room with Spoons, D. Trevlon Band, and Cygnets

And stay tuned for the official album release in the early summer!


Hip-Hop in the Underground City


The music you are introduced to growing up can have a big influence on your life.

What music your parents or older siblings play for you in your impressionable years can set your musical path. If they make you listen to, say, John Denver, it might inspire you to become a country boy. Or,  it might inspire you to only listen to speed metal and NEVER visit the countryside. You never know, it can probably go either way.

One person who wasn’t influenced much by John Denver (so far anyways) is Jason Tait. As he relates, he was “introduced to Tupac and Biggie by family members” and “started rapping at 12 years old.” It was fun at first, but through writing gangsta stuff, his involvement with music was “disconnected from life trying to live up to the gangsta rap image.”

By the time he was 16, he was seriously involved in hip-hop – meeting other rappers and writing music with them. Despite the gangsta image, participation still offered community. Around that age, Tait met a friend in Winnipeg who was in a program concentrated on rapping – shooting videos and performing live. Finding an official group that was focused on hip-hop motivated Tait to do it as well. The friend became Tait’s mentor, and taught him “how to write bars and how to count – all the ins and outs of hip-hop.” Before this, he says, his rapping was “out of touch with real life. My friend asked me, ‘why are you rapping about stuff that isn’t relevant?’”

This changed Tait’s direction. Inspired by his talented mentor, Tait was encouraged to push his limits and reach his potential. Tait’s friend helped him recognize his abilities and focus on subject matter that was really important. Through this mentorship, Tait was introduced to inner-city and youth hip-hop orientated programs. Overall, conscious hip-hop offered him a more positive community than the image of gangsta rap ever could.

Moving on his own to Edmonton, Tait found iHuman and started doing shows for them – he participated in the inner-city hip-hop scene, and represented it in the wider community, performing all over Edmonton.

Last winter Tait was back in Winnipeg, and was told about an employment program focused on various elements of hip-hop – graffiti and b-boying, for instance, but no rapping. Tait decided to fill this gap, and proposed to the program that he become a mentor. So, for several months, Tait worked as a hip-hop facilitator. He organized writing workshops. Freestyle workshops. Open mics. As he says, “it was pretty awesome. It was fun.”

Now back in Edmonton, Tait is still heavily involved in the local scene. He has performed with Collective Conscious, Kriyple, One Deep, Brandy J., and lots of other local acts, as well as solo as Metatait. He is focused on conscious hip-hop – “what’s relevant about today.” This includes personal stuff, and allows him a positive outlet to express himself. “Writing a song or verse,” he says, “is a therapeutic way of dealing with challenges.” It also includes issues he sees around Edmonton. “Poverty. Drug use. Oppression. Marginalization by mainstream society.”

At the recent Truth and Reconciliation National Event in March, Tait performed at the TRC Talent Showcase. This was important because he used his generation’s music to express how he feels about residential schools to an inter-generational audience.

It helped him take what he has learned, and bring the issues to light in his music.

Tait also sees the impact he has as a mentor in the inner-city community. As a hip-hop youth worker at Boyle Street Community Services, Tait has seen firsthand what hip-hop can do:

More confidence in youth. Stuff that’s relevant. How they’re growing and changing.  When they rap about what’s going on – they don’t want to talk in an uncomfortable situation with a therapist they don’t know. They’re getting what’s inside them out – personal expression is therapeutic – subconsciously. Counseling in a way. Participating in a music community they care about matters to them and inspires them to deal with challenges and keep going.


Check out Metatait’s music here:

CJSR Playlist 5


Here’s my fifth playlist on CJSR, from Monday 14 April!

1. Hooded Fang (Toronto) – “Bye Bye Land”
2. The Frolics (Edmonton) – “Wish U Dead”
3. Wool on Wolves (Edmonton) – “Broken Pictures”
4. Choir and Marching Band (Edmonton) – “Real Life”
5. Bombproof the Horses (Edmonton) – “Springtime in my Hometown”
6. Tyler Butler (Edmonton) – “Ben”
7. DOA (Vancouver) – “General Strike” (live)
8. Death (Detroit) – “North Street”
9. Bend Sinister (Kelowna) – “Fancy Pants”
10. Hanson Brothers (Victoria) – “My Game”
11. Boxer Rebellion (London) – “Caught by the Light”
12. Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit (London) – “The Prizefighter and the Heiress”
13. Reverend Horton Heat (Dallas) – “Victory Lap”
14. The Cramps (New York City) – “Like a Bad Girl Should”


The History of Punk, Class #23


The History of Punk
Monday 7 April 7:00PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome



One day in the summer of 1983, a band called The Melvins  put on an impromptu event called The Them Festival in Montesano, Washington. This was near a place called Aberdeen, a town of 17,000 people 108 miles from Seattle. The ‘festival’ consisted of a free performance in the parking lot of a Thriftway supermarket. A teenager from Aberdeen was in the audience, and later wrote in his journal that “the stoners were bored and kept shouting, ‘Play some Def Leppard,'” but this was “what [he had] been looking for.”

In this class, we’ll take a look at the legacy of this teenager, Kurt Cobain, who felt isolated in his hometown – from mainstream society, other youth, and his family. We will trace his participation throughout the underground music community in Washington, from Aberdeen to Olympia to Seattle, while examining his influences and values.

Finally, we will discuss Cobain’s lasting impact 20 years after his death, and why he still resonates with a generation that found what it had been looking for, in Nirvana.

“Nirvana Photographer Charles Peterson Reflects On Kurt Cobain’s Life & Legacy”
“Notes from Seattle: 20 years later, what is Kurt Cobain’s legacy?”
“Kurt Cobain’s overlooked legacy: Guitar teacher for a generation”
“Kurt Cobain’s hometown no ‘nirvana’ 20 years after death”
“Here We Are Now”
“Kurt Cobain, Seattle 1993 Complete Interview”
“Kurt Cobain’s Interrogation of Hegemonic Masculinity”

The Melvins – “live-in-the-studio, circa 1984
Beat Happening – “Our Secret”
The Go Team- “Scratch It Out”
The Go Team – “Bikini Twilight”
Nirvana – “Smells like Teen Spirit” (first time live)
Nirvana – “Live at Reading, 1992” (full concert)

upside down